TOBACCO smugglers will always look for new ingenious ways to carry out their illicit activities but customs officers are also adopting new tactics to catch the criminals.
Having become aware that the Western Beach frontier fence had recently seen an increase in this activity customs officers posed as beach-goers and were on hand to arrest three 19- year-old Spanish men were arrested as they attempted an unsuccessful run across the beach to the frontier fence.
209 cartons of cigarettes with an approximate value of £4,000 were confiscated and a motor vehicle involved in the transportation was seized by customs.
Two women, involved in transporting the cigarettes, were also arrested. All five have been released on bail until October 26.
Customs is now planning further measures to counter illicit smuggling in the area. It has also been announced that Customs are to be given additional powers to tackle the problem of tobacco smuggling.
A portacabin from which Customs Officers will operate both overt and the recently successful covert operations has been placed at the entrance to Western Beach.
In addition, a Bill will be laid before Parliament to extend the powers of search without a warrant to premises licensed under the Tobacco Act.
Additional provisions will be introduced making it an offence to assault, resist or obstruct officers as well as the offence of giving false information by signing any document in respect of the import or sales of cigarettes.
The changes will allow officers to enter shops selling cigarettes, to check whether they are keeping to restrictions on their sale. It is understood that six commercial tobacco licences have been revoked in the last year.